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public space

Downtown Ann Arbor
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

A lot has changed in how we relate to the public spaces around us this year. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some main streets have closed to cars and opened to pedestrians, to give passersby more room. Restaurants — those that survived — got creative with outdoor seating. And people stuck at home suddenly found themselves seeking local outdoor spaces — where they're available — for recreation and physically distanced socializing. All these shifts in how we use our spaces got us thinking: What does a “return to normal” look like for cities?

Urban farming is one way public space is being used in Detroit.
Flickr user Liz Patek / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

 

Private development has changed the face of Detroit. New restaurants, shops and houses have popped up in Midtown, Corktown and downtown Detroit. But what about public spaces?

 

Our latest contributor to The Next Idea is Anya Sirota, an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan. She’s also the principal of Akoaki, a practice in Detroit involving architecture, art and cultural infrastructure.

 

Sirota believes there aren’t enough public spaces in Detroit that offer openness and the opportunity to build a sense of belonging. She thinks public space is crucial to the health of a city.